August tomato dinner

Tomatoes are in their prime and plentiful. You have had your raw tomato feast. You have plenty o’ tomatoes sitting out on a platter. Perhaps some are starting to go past their prime. Time to cook ’em up! A speedy scrumptious dinner that screams: SUMMER!

Sauté garlic in oil. Add in some cut up tomatoes — perhaps you want to squeeze out and discard seeds which bring nothing to the party — and cook for about 10 minutes or so with salt until they wilt. Add in peeled shrimp and cook for about 4 minutes.

Throw some cooked pasta — campanelle (trumpets seem perfectly matched) into sauce with some reserved pasta cooking water, and plate. Top with chiffonade basil and perhaps some grated parmesan (though in Rome this would be taboo serving cheese with seafood!).

Or: instead of shrimp, top pasta with some fresh cubed mozzarella. Mangia! Fresh tomatoes with aromatic basil. Happy summer dining! And no sweat.

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Roasted vegetables for summer meal

This is super-delicious, freshly vibrant, and low-stress because cooked vegetables sit on the counter until you’re ready to eat.

Here’s how to do it:
Game plan:

Put up some black forbidden rice or perhaps brown rice.

Grill vegetables in a grill pan over hot fire, basting with flavored olive oil (with pastry brush) before placing oil-side down on grill, and baste top. Cover grill to stop flares. Watch carefully and move around to prevent burning. Takes just a couple minutes if fire is hot.
Remove and serve warm or room temperature with perhaps some black forbidden rice and Asian vinaigrette.
Or take in Italian route with oregano in the oil, and fresh basil in some brown rice(?) with fresh tomato slices.

Specific directions:
Light a charcoal fire.

Chop garlic and add to olive oil with S&P. Optional: tarragon or rosemary.

Prepare Vegetables:

Sweet peppers, cut in half and remove seeds and ribs
Eggplant — Love Thai. Cut in half lengthwise and then into 4” pieces. If using large eggplant, cut off outside lengthwise and then into 1/2” or wider slices.
Onions, especially summer onions — peeled and cut in half if not too large. Otherwise cut into segments. I think it would be a good idea to stick a toothpick or soaked skewer through ‘em so they don’t fall apart and burn.
Zucchini, cut like eggplant — trim outside, then cut into 4” lengths and thick-ish slices.
Mushrooms — wash and de-stem, leaving whole. I like cremini. Portobello of course if you have ‘em.
Shishito peppers

 

Cooking black rice: Wash rice 4-5 times. Put in rice cooker and add 1 c rice to 1-3/4 c water. Cook like brown rice.

Alternately, put into small saucepan and cook for 30 minutes.

Boiled shrimp for eating cold

If you go to a restaurant, shrimp is touted as a luxury item, high-priced and in stingy supply. At home with a bag o’ frozen shrimp in the freezer (preferably US Gulf shrimp) they are a handy and delicious protein available on a whim.

I have a favorite way to cook ’em. First you put them in a colander (6 to 7 large per person) in the sink and run water over them for about 5 minutes, moving them around to give each their turn under the spigot.

Meanwhile, put up a pot of water to boil with white and black peppercorns, juice of one lemon (cut in half, squeeze and drop in rinds), whole coriander seeds, and Old Bay seasoning. Boil for five minutes or so for flavor to disperse, adding in shells whenever available.

Peel and de-vein shrimp, saving shells and adding to water boil. (If you are going to serve by themselves, such as for a party, peel shrimp only up to last segment, leaving tails on.)

Boil shrimp for 3 minutes. Drain and chill. I like to not rinse the shrimp.

 

Summer salad

First: when you buy a head of lettuce, as soon as you get it home, wash, dry and refrigerate. That way you have one step up on salad making, and it’s a sinch to grab some lettuce to tuck into a sandwich or whatever.

Ingredients — on top of lettuce:

Carrots
Cauliflower, raw, cut up into florets
potatoes, boiled
Protein: boiled shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, or poached chicken breast

Green beans, par-boiled (boiled 2 minutes in salted water)
Avocado
Tomato
Cucumber — I like to partially peel, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon, and then cut into half-moon slices.

Pepitas sprinkled on top are a nice addition.

Here’s an earlier take on this salad

And here’s the buttermilk vinaigrette dressing I love.